The fourth National Stakeholders’ Forum on Petroleum Sector Governance was opened here on Wednesday to assess progress made on the social and environment impacts, revenue management and local content participation.
The two-day event on the theme, ‘Towards a decade of commercial oil discovery-progress made in addressing active citizen concerns,’ is being attended by development partners, traditional leaders, civil society, community-based groups, government representatives, the media and researchers, and the security services.
Opening it, the Executive Director of Friends Of Nation (FON), Mr. Donkris Mevuta, noted that 10 years after Ghana discovered oil and gas in commercial quantities off the Western coast, expectations had increased and it was a good time to assess whether the recommendations made during the discovery, had been addressed.
He said in 2013, when the national engagement began, stakeholders believed that everybody would contribute his quota towards improving governance of the petroleum resources.
According to Mr. Mevuta, the forum had provided a platform for over 300 stakeholders from civil society, the government, traditional authorities and the private sector from both national and local levels to discuss and offer solutions to address the social, environmental, livelihoods, and revenue management issues.
He reported that the forum had contributed to the revision of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) and to include source of funding for the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), and encouraged better stakeholder engagement on the Petroleum(Exploration) Production Bill.
It also increased awareness on the need to establish appropriate mechanisms to avoid conflicts by putting in measures to address the social and environmental impacts from the emerging oil and gas industry.
The Executive Director of FON said the programme had enhanced communities and stakeholders’ interests and commitment in participating in oil and gas governance.
“We can boldly say that the National Forum had not been a talk shop, but a credible platform to discuss pertinent issues that translates into better management of our petroleum resources,” Mr. Mevuta added.
He thanked the Swiss Embassy, OXFAM and GIZ and other partners for their continuous supports for the forum.
The Omanhene for Lower Dixcove, Nana Akwasi Agyeman 1X, who chaired the forum, underscored the importance of the programme providing a platform for civil society to assess the benefits from the oil and gas resources.
He said it was critical for the forum to examine the levels of implementation against the expectations of the Ghanaian, especially those from the Western Region, where the petroleum resources were extracted and distributed.
Nana Agyeman pointed out that the region needed to assess how locals benefited from employment arising from the petroleum sector as he believed that there were equally qualified graduates who could fill some of the job placements.
“We need to sit down and discuss the issues. We are not saying that all the benefits should be given to the Western Region including employments, but at least, we need our fair share of the benefits,” Nana Agyeman stressed.
Describing the forum as an eye-opener, the Omanhene of Lower Dixcove praised civil society for the huge work and also providing the information on the oil and gas governance.
From Clement Adzei Boye, Takoradi